David Schramm (actor)

David Schramm
Born (1946-08-14) August 14, 1946[1][2][3]
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.[2][4][5]
Occupation Actor

David Schramm (born August 14, 1946) is an American actor. He is best known for playing the critically acclaimed role of Roy Biggins, the portly, curmudgeonly rival airline owner in the TV series Wings.[4][6][7][8]

Early life and education

Schramm was born on August 14, 1946, in Louisville, Kentucky.[2][4][5] His father was a bookie.[5]

Schramm revealed in a 2008 interview that at the age of 17, "(my parents) always came to see me in school, where I won trophies for speaking, and then in those big outdoor dramas we have in Kentucky, and then as an apprentice actor at the playhouse that eventually became the Actors Theater of Louisville." Schramm also earned $25 a week for cleaning toilets and for being in a play.[5]

"I had been acting non-stop since I was a teenager," Schramm said in a 2012 interview. "But really I got started in acting because others helped me push into it. When I was a kid, it was other actors getting me to do it. Then I had a series of teachers who told me I was going to do it. John Houseman got me under his wing, and I went along with it happily."[4]

Schramm took acting classes at Western Kentucky University, where he got a full scholarship to the Juilliard School from Dr. Mildred Howard.[5] Schramm attended Juilliard from 1968 to 1972 and took classes that were taught by Michael Kahn.[4] Schramm graduated from Juilliard afterwards.[2][6][7] He is also a founding member of The Acting Company.[7][8][9]

Early career

Early theatre work

Houseman offered Schramm to play King Lear in an Off-Broadway production of William Shakespeare's play of the same name.[8] In 1979, Schramm appeared on Broadway opposite Judith Ivey in Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce. He played the role of Malcolm.[9][10]

In 1980, Schramm performed in Howard Sackler's Goodbye Fidel at the Ambassadors Theatre.[11]

In 1988, Schramm appeared at the Pasadena Playhouse opposite Rebecca DeMornay in a production of Born Yesterday.[8]

In September 1989, he performed in Ayckbourn's A Chorus of Disapproval at the South Coast Repertory.[9]

Early television work

Schramm appeared in the television movie, The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story (1990), and the miniseries, Kennedy (1983), in which he portrayed Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.[8]

Schramm also made appearances in Another World and Wiseguy. In 1990, he appeared opposite Sandra Bullock in the short-lived series Working Girl, based on the 1988 film of the same name.[8]

Film work

Films he has appeared in include Let It Ride (1989), Johnny Handsome (1989) and A Shock to the System (1990).[8]


Schramm gained national recognition for portraying the blustery, cantankerous airline owner Roy Biggins, in the sitcom Wings, which aired from 1990 to 1997.[4][5] He appeared in all 172 episodes throughout the show's entire run.[5]

When asked what he remembered most from Wings: "I knew when we started it was going to be a success. Not just because the writers had been involved with Cheers, Taxi and Mary Tyler Moore. But when we sat around the table reading the first script, and I saw this buffoon they created for me, this pompous guy who said garish things to women, and all the other rich characters, I turned to Rebecca (Schull, who played Fay) and said, 'I think we've landed in a tub of butter.' And we did. If only I put the money I made under my mattress instead of in the stock market."[5]

Later theatre work

After Wings, Schramm has returned to acting on stage both in theaters across the country and on Broadway.[12]

From October 31 to December 21 of 2003, Schramm appeared in the New York Theatre Workshop's production of The Beard of Avon. He played the role of John Heminge.[13][14]

In June 2008, Schramm was part of the cast of the Berkshire Theatre Festival's production of George Bernard Shaw's Candida, in which he played Candida's father, Mr. Burgess.[15][16] On August of that same year he played Pozzo in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the same festival.[17]

From November 18 to December 14, 2008, Schramm portrayed the role of Richard Harkin in Conor McPherson's The Seafarer at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The production was directed Anders Cato, whom Schramm previously collaborated with in Waiting for Godot and Candida.[5][15]

From October 29, 2009 to January 17, 2010, Schramm appeared in the revival of Finian's Rainbow at the St. James Theatre in New York City, portraying the role of Senator Rawkins.[12][18][19][20][21]

In February 2012, it was announced that Schramm would appear in a stage production of Reginald Rose's Twelve Angry Men at the George Street Playhouse. The show had its premiere on March 13, 2012.[22]

In June–July 2012, Schramm portrayed Falstaff in William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. "This is my first time doing Merry Wives. I'm having a great time. The director (Stephen Rayne) is absolutely stellar. He's intelligent and experienced and really knows the era. We've set the play at the end of the first World War, sort of in the Downton Abbey era. It works very well as a time period for the play. And it looks great. We're meticulously putting it together. This play really demands a lot from everybody. There's so much to try and do. But we're all pulling together," said Schramm in a 2012 interview. Schramm also revealed that it was his first time at the Shakespeare Theatre.[4]

On October 2014, Schramm played the role of Tony in the George Street Playhouse's production of John Patrick Shanley's Outside Mullingar.[23]

In June 2015, it was reported that Schramm was suffering from vocal problems and under doctor's orders, he had to withdraw from performing in the Barrington Stage Company's production of Richard Strand's Butler. Director Joseph Discher cast understudy Wally Dunn as Schramm's replacement for the title role.[24][25][26]

Personal life

Schramm stated in a 2008 interview, "I'm not a drinker, though I come from an area where drinking is like breathing. My father was a bookie, so consequently we went to the track a lot, where there was plenty of booze. My entire family drank; on weekends, there were always plenty of cases of beer in the house. Don't ask me why, but I just didn't get that gene."[5]

Schramm has been credited for getting David Adkins into a career in acting when he took him to see Juilliard.[6]

Schramm resides in New York and has homes in Chatham and Riverdale.[5]

Select filmography


  1. "Today In History, August 14". WBNS-TV. 14 August 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 David Schramm biography at The New York Times
  3. "Today's Birthdays". Times Union. 14 August 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Syles, Hunter (18 June 2012). "David Schramm on playing Falstaff in Merry Wives of Windsor". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Filichia, Peter (13 November 2008). "David Schramm stars in 'The Seafarer' at the George Street Playhouse". NJ.com. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 Rousuck, J. Wynn (29 September 1999). "Adkins discovers his home onstage". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 See, Joan (2011). Acting in Commercials: A Guide to Auditioning and Performing on Camera. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. ISBN 9780307799517.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "David Schramm". Hollywood.com.
  9. 1 2 3 Herman, Jan (12 September 1989). "Schramm on Ayckbourn, Accents and 'A Chorus'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  10. Simon, John (10 September 1979). "Changing the Guard". New York. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  11. Hischak, Thomas S. (2009). Broadway Plays and Musicals: Descriptions and Essential Facts of More Than 14,000 Shows through 2007. McFarland. ISBN 9780786453092.
  12. 1 2 Jordan, Chris (19 April 2010). "'Wings' Cast: Where Are They Now?". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  13. Finkle, David (19 November 2003). "The Beard of Avon". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  14. "THE BEARD OF AVON". New York Theatre Workshop. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  15. 1 2 Murray, Larry (22 June 2008). "Magnificent Candida Lights Up Berkshire Theatre Festival". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  16. Kennedy, Louise (3 July 2008). "Finding a perfect marriage in 'Candida'". Boston.com. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  17. Bergman, J. Peter (3 August 2008). "Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. Directed by Anders Cato.". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  18. Isherwood, Charles (30 October 2009). "A Pot of Sunny Gold in Those Green Hills". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  19. Denny, Scott; Hodges, Ben (2011). Theatre World 2009-2010. Applause Theatre & Cinema. ISBN 9781423492719.
  20. Gamerman, Ellen (23 October 2009). "Broadway Turns Up the Volume". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  21. Komisar, Lucy (10 December 2009). ""Finian's Rainbow," rich in ideas and memorable music and lyrics, counts among the best of American musicals.". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  22. Gans, Andrew (17 February 2012). "Jack Klugman, Gregg Edelman, David Schramm, Jonathan Hadary, James Rebhorn Will Be George Street's Angry Men". Playbill. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  23. Paolino, Charles (2 October 2014). "'Outside Mullingar' at the George Street Playhouse". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  24. Bergman, J. Peter (28 May 2015). "ON STAGE: 'Butler' at Barrington Stage is a marvel". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  25. Murray, Larry (3 June 2015). "Wally Dunn fills in for ailing David Schramm in "Butler" at Barrington Stage". Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  26. "Schramm leaves 'Butler' at BSC for health reasons". The Berkshire Eagle. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.

External links

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